Clark County high school bowlers reflect on another championship season
It was redemption for Prairie High School senior Lilly Bash.
It was a first for the Skyview Storm.
It was championship week for state high school bowling, and Southwest Washington had another rewarding experience.
Bash won the Class 3A state individual title on Thursday, erasing some tough memories from years past.
On Saturday, the Skyview Storm won the Class 4A state team title.
On Sunday, champions discussed their experience and how life has changed in just a few days.
This was Bash’s third state championship experience. She bowled at Narrows Plaza Bowl in University Place as a freshman and sophomore. (There was no state championship event last year.)
“I’ve put a lot of work, a lot of hours into bowling. The two times before (at state), I did not do good. I would be the one who would be crying on the practice lanes because I was so frustrated,” Bash said.
“The fact in my senior year that I got it together and was able to do what I know how to do, doing what I love …,” she said.
Relief and pride.
Bash’s day did not start off so well. In fact, 20 bowlers recorded better scores than Bash in the first of four games to determine the state champion.
Bash then rolled a 223 in the second game to take the lead, the only bowler to crack the 200-mark that round. After the third game, her lead was four pins. Anything could happen. Bash soared to a 221 finish in the fourth game and won by a total of 16 pins.
Oh, by the way, she had no idea that any of this was happening when it was happening.
“The entire tournament I hadn’t paid attention to anybody’s scores except for my own and my teammates,” she said. “I didn’t know where I was standing throughout the entire thing.”
When it was over, she figured she was in the top 12. Yes, seriously. That’s about it.
Then tournament organizers started to announce names and places. Prairie teammate Karly Wold-Hays finished fifth. Well, Bash knew she had a better score than Wold-Hays so at that moment, she knew she was in the top four.
“That’s when I realized, ‘Oh my gosh I might have actually won the whole thing.’”
Then her name still wasn’t called for the next three placings.
That is when it hit her: Lilly Bash. State. Champion.
“It was like I had this rush of adrenaline,” Bash said. “I felt like crying. Obviously I was super happy. It didn’t feel real at the time.”
The schedule for state bowling changed this year as the WIAA adjusted to pandemic protocols. That meant each classification competed everything in one day, individual and team events. The Prairie squad took third place.
“After the whole thing, I spent time with my team. Drove home that night. Celebrated in the van ride home. Received loads of messages from family and friends,” Bash said.
She also thought it was “weird” how many people who reached out to her, people she didn’t even know.
“Lots of recognition, which I’m not really used to,” she said.
Besides being a great day for Lilly Bash and the Falcons, it was also a highlight for the family. Rhonda Bash, Lilly’s mom, is the team’s head coach. Donn Bash, Lilly’s dad, is the assistant coach. And Donn Bash was Prairie’s original head coach at Prairie. So yes, Bash and Prairie bowling are quite the team.
On Saturday, it was time for the Class 4A championship.
This turned into a Skyview coronation from pretty much the outset.
Chloe Gregory, a senior and a team leader, said the Storm were not told of their scores and standings throughout most of the competition, but they sensed they had a big lead.
“We kind of knew,” Gregory said.
Honestly, it was that obvious.
The first four games consist of the total number of pins rolled by five team members. Skyview took a decent lead after the first game, then combined for a 907 in the second game. No other team cracked 800 pins. There was a huge lead going into the 10 Baker games, and Skyview was never threatened. The Storm won by more than 200 pins.
In fact, unbeknownst to the bowlers, some of the Skyview parents went out to the parking lot to decorate the team vehicles. Using blue and white paint pens, they wrote the players’ names and displayed “State Champs” on the windows.
Gregory found out later that some of the moms were worried about celebrating too early. It would end up not mattering. Skyview cruised to victory.
“Once we got out to the cars, I was giving everybody hugs. So hard to not cry, thinking about the past four years and how great it has been,” Gregory said.
The Storm played the song “All I Do is Win,” a team tradition.
“On the way home, we were trying to celebrate but we were also so exhausted because they changed it to a one-day event,” Gregory said. “We were there for almost 10 hours.”
The seven Skyview Storm bowlers who competed on Saturday: Addysen Case (who finished fourth in the individual competition), Lauren Gaynor (fifth), Gregory (seventh), Karley Coleman, Avery Henderson, Kennedy Brents, and Kaydree Rowland.
A day later, Gregory acknowledged it is a little bittersweet for her. Naturally, she loves being a state champion. But as a senior, this was her last ride with the Storm bowling team.
“I got my first-place medal. It’s nice looking back at all the photos. It was only 24 hours ago, but I’m already reminiscing a bit,” she said. “Next year, I’ll be there to cheer them on.”
In fact, Gregory said the Storm can celebrate this state title right now but soon they better get back to the lanes.
“They’ll have to work twice as hard because everyone will be gunning for us,” she said.
Both Bash and Gregory say bowling will remain a big part of their lives. At present, neither expects to bowl in college. Instead, they will continue bowling in local leagues while going to college, and both said they would love to help out with their high school teams.
In the Class 2A/1A competition, Rose Ugbinada of Fort Vancouver finished second. Columbia River finished second in the team event.
Evergreen, which had won the previous four state team titles, finished fourth this year. For all results from the WIAA state bowling championships, go to: https://wiaa.com/subcontent.aspx?SecID=316